Thanks to our many readers who submitted their ideas for easy fitness activities that families can do together. Here are a few of their suggestions.
Bike ride together
Many readers told us they take bike rides with their children, either to an
exciting destination like the local pancake house, or just around the neighborhood as a stress-reliever:
A California mom of a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son writes: “We love to take bike rides after school/work, which relieves tension from either a stressful day at work or being cooped up in the classroom. It gives us the exercise we need plus we always have extra things to talk about during dinner.”
A mother of two sons, ages 8 and 12, writes: “On weekends we like to bike to our favorite morning breakfast restaurant (IHOP). Even in our suburban area that borders on urban, there’s a lot to see and we get to talk a little while the pancakes are quite the incentive.”
Another family in Colorado participates in competitive BMX bike racing: “My husband and I recently got our 8 year old son into BMX racing. It is not only a great physical activity but it teaches him great social skills, as well as good sportsmanship. He is really excited about racing. My husband and I are also racing. My husband is one of the coaches for his team. BMX racing is a great activity for the whole family. It definitely is a great workout as well as a lot of fun.”
Take a walk
A family walk is a simple activity that accomplishes two goals: keeping fit and making time to communicate. Here’s what one New York mom had to say: “I am a single mother of two (an 11-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl) who lives in upstate New York. We go for an after-dinner walk every evening; this activity not only helps us in keeping fit, but it also provides some quality time during which we can talk without the distractions of the television or phone.”
Run a race
A Florida mom suggests finding local 5K races to enter together: “Sometimes the early race times are an issue with cranky kids, but we’ve discovered that inviting a friend to run will also alleviate some of the whining. Many 5K’s are for charities, which teaches the kids to try to help their community, ¬and there are usually activities and food sponsors that make for an interesting time after the run is over.
Don’t just watch the football game, play it!
Avoid sitting in front of the TV for long periods just watching the game, advises this South Carolina mom: “We like to play tackle football in the front or back yard on Sundays (in between the games we’re watching together).”
Make this video game active
An Arizona mom has found a way to make her video game into an activity machine for her 12-year-old daughter. She writes: “If you moms and dads want to try and keep up with your kids, go for it, and good luck…it won’t be easy…but you will find muscles you never knew you had! I’m sure most of us have Playstations or the like. Well, there is a game, with a sensor mat, called ‘Dance, dance revolution!’ You put it in the Playstation and put the mat on the floor, carpet or un-carpeted and then you choose your level of play. Next you pick out a song, and on the screen the people ‘dance,’ and you see exactly how to move your feet. You follow in exact step, and at the end of the song, get ‘graded.’ It is a lot of fun, and you don’t even realize that you are getting a fantastic cardio workout while enjoying dance and silliness with your kids! Great time for all!
Can’t decide which activity to do? Pick one for each day!
This mom has her kids on a schedule of a different activity for each day of the week: “I have them do a form of exercise every day. We have an exercise schedule. Mondays and Fridays are ‘free days’ where the kids can pick their own outdoor activity. Tuesdays and Saturdays are yoga. Wednesdays and Sundays, we do Pilates (my own variation for the kids). Thursdays we do sports. In addition, the kids ride their bikes every day. The toddlers also stay very active. They have their own version of all the same activities I do with the older kids. The toddlers also have bikes to ride, but on days when we ride too far for them to keep up (and they are in a bike-attached canopy), I play music with them later and have them dance, jump and play. If you set a good pattern, they will automatically follow it. The same goes for the bad patterns, too.”